Rachel Freire (Materials Innovation, 2016)Textile gloves as worn 2014

Rachel Freire

Shortlisted in 2016 for Materials Innovation

Rachel is a London based artist and designer working in conceptual fashion, traditional costume and garment technology, with a particular interest in juxtaposing futuristic applications with traditional techniques. Originally trained in Design for Performance, each of Rachel’s collections explore different concepts, questioning the space in which they exist yet still offering functional and beautiful art objects.

Since 2012 Rachel has been working on the development of interactive musical gloves which fuse traditional textiles with advanced motion tracking electronics and algorithms. The gloves were a concept first realised by artist and musician Imogen Heap who used the gloves to control music software on stage. As textile designer for this project Rachel has developed a series of versions including using e-textiles to replace the bend sensors first used. Developed to be open source, the gloves have been used by musicians and artists enabling them to literally use their body to control the audience experience.

The premise of Rachel’s work is she says ‘designed to tell stories, or to inspire them’. Her studio, set up in 2009, has always focused on ‘tactile narratives and value attribution’ such as anti-fashion, slow fashion, ethical manufacture, waste reduction, upcycling and more. Her work often sparks controversy, for example her ‘Notes on Quitting’ (2010) installation featured ‘bamboo’ sculptures made of cigarette butts and shown worn as a necklace. In her piece Iconoclast/Nippleocalypse which caused public outcry in 2011, she designed a dress completely constructed from roses made from leather nipples.